Tuesday, July 26, 2016

If Any Matter, All Matter

Black lives matter is not rhetoric, not an empty promise that fades from our collective consciousness like a piece of candy, or like an ad for one more product our already over consumptive material world needs like another bullet hole.

Black lives matter is not a slogan, a flag we can wave on Independence Day while we barbecue in the backyard, play by the pool, and neglect to think for even one moment why it is we are here, celebrating in the first place.

Black lives matter is not a calling card, an emblem that we whip out when it suits our needs or when something happens (again) or when we start forgetting (again) because our attention spans can no longer extend beyond a story, or an event, or even a moment.

Black lives matter is simply a reality that ebbs and flows, like the tide, from this existence. It is not debatable, nor is it cause for the venomous hatred it has inspired. Nor is it necessary.

Or at least it shouldn't be.

Saying black lives matter is like saying air matters, or water, or soil, or food. It is like saying that earth matters. Interesting, that each is under some form of attack, almost beyond and outside the recognition that their mattering should be so obvious that the words needn't be spoken.

Alas, that is not the world we occupy. And as long as things that matter are attacked as if they don't, the obvious must be reiterated and the unnecessary must again become necessary.

Black lives matter means nothing more than all lives matter. But, as anyone paying attention knows, that broader generalization misses the most critical point. Because no one questions whether white lives matter. No one gets rewarded for snuffing out a white life. No one gets paid leave and 'not guilty' verdicts raining down upon our world like a flood. No one gets immunity, ever, for ending an unarmed white life. 

The reality of which really makes black lives matter a reminder, as if we'd somehow forgotten the lesson we finally seemed to learn. A lesson that took us four hundred years to learn; took less than forty to forget.

Beautiful man, you matter. You matter like your brother standing on the corner selling cd's, your cousin walking down the street in his hoodie, your friend who teaches kids with autism, your neighbor who got locked up last week for stealing bread. You matter like my son and my daughter. You matter like the leathered brown man working the fields, the still unsuspecting yellow man sitting in internment camp, the black father floating his family on a perilous raft to a mirage across the sea.

Your words matter. The love that pours from your heart matters. The music and vision and desires and hopes and dreams that you not only mold, like clay, but share with the world, matter. You share them in Sedona, safe and secure and separate from the rest of the world. You share them in Providence, fraught with fear that you'll get shot for legally refusing to share your name after an illegal and unnecessary police stop. You share it in a world that is confused, looking for reminders that this is not the way it is supposed to be. The love you share is one piece of that bigger story, that fabric that lives and breathes and undulates in all directions, searching for a place to grab hold and explode like the most beautiful light ever created.

You matter where black lives matter, you matter where all lives matter, you matter where everything that matters, matters. You are more than a survivor filled with unearned guilt. More than a hash tag. More than a single life, winding your way through this existence. You are part of a collective, and not just the one in Sedona. Part of the collective that is this existence.

You are as vital as every other piece of this fabric. The void of your loss would begin an unraveling that would not cease until there was nothing left. Just like the void left by Delrawn, Alton, Philando, Michael, Trayvon, Eric, Tamir, Tony, Walter, Freddie, and countless other strands of this beautiful fabric that we are helplessly watching unravel before us. But we are not helpless.

They matter. You matter. If any of us are to matter, then all of us must. It's time to put down our guns and hashtags and lift our needles and thread. We have so much work to do.

No comments: